Toys of Terror
It's just two weeks til Christmas and the world around us is bustling with shoppers, shippers and Christmas lights galore. And while my job consumes all of my time this month every year, I always try to make sure to check out some of the amazing classic Christmas horror films, and find the new gems to come out that year. This week, I was lucky enough to squeeze a quick film into my schedule - TOYS OF TERROR - and while it may not be a hidden gem, it's far from a bad time and a great way to get a little more holiday cheer into your black heart. Toys of Terror was written by Dana Gould and directed by Nicholas Verso and - if you couldn't already tell by the title - features some evil fuckin' toys!! One of my first thoughts after the credits began to roll is what a great horror movie to start children on; honestly, if you have a child that you want to get into horror and you don't mind showing them a film with some cursing and some kills (nothing too graphic, but not too innocent either), Toys of Terror would make for a great introductory film for your family. As a thirty one year old dude, though, the movie is simply an entertaining hour and a half that I probably won't go out of my way to rewatch, but that's not to say it's bad. Besides being a bit predictable and a little too linear for my liking, the film introduces some absolutely entertaining and hilarious characters in the form of stop animation toys that are the absolute highlight of the movie with their evil antics! If evil toys are your thing, this movie might just fall short of essential viewing, but it's far from a waste of time!
Toys of Terror follows the story of a young "Brady Bunch" style family who go away for Christmas only to have a series of bizarre and unfortunate events follow them. Hannah (Kyana Teresa) and David (Dayo Ade) are in the business of buying and flipping properties, and the location for this years family Christmas is one of those properties... only it's got a dark past: it's a defunct children's hospital. Along with their three kids - teenage Alicia (Verity Marks) and children Franklin (Saul Elias) and Zoe (Zoe Fish) - and their family helper Rose (Georgia Waters), the family make their way up to the children's home both for business and pleasure. It doesn't take long, however, for things to start to seem weird around the property, but it all just gets brushed off. The children end up finding a toy chest filled with old toys that they absolutely fall in love with and can't put down. But before long, the toys take on a life of their own - literally - as they come to life and guide the kids to pure evil! Leaving a path of trouble and destruction in their path, the toys make the kids do some pretty messed up stuff and it's up to the rest of the family to pull the kids out of their trance before they hurt themselves or anyone else. Can the adults destroy the demonic toys in time before the children are led to their own demise, or will the toys have an unbreakable control over the young kids?! Find out in... TOYS OF TERROR!
As far as the (human) characters go, unfortunately there's nothing really special or memorable about any of them once the movie ends, but I guess to be fair, the films main attraction are the evil toys. But what will be a little surprising to viewers is how much heart really is intertwined in the film, it's just subtly placed among the chaos. So while you may not walk away from the movie thinking about how amazing of a woman Hannah is, I'm sure you'll at least be able to appreciate the bond shared between the parents and their children after all is said and done. But yeah, the big draw for this movie is definitely the group of evil toys who I thought were awesomely done and whose personalities were excellently developed. They're wacky, they're sinful yet joyful, and best of all, they're fucking insane! Once things really kick off and the toys begin their trance over the kids, the film takes an immediate dark turn and the whole attitude of the film changes, and that's when this film goes from "ok" to "awesome." But unfortunately, even with how great the toys look running around causing a scene and trying to lead two innocent children to their death, the film just doesn't really stand out among all of the other holiday horror that's out there. Sure, one of the death scenes is surprisingly shocking and brutal, but besides that, Toys of Terror is just a fun hour and a half and then it's over. But if you're looking for something new and you love a good evil toy, this film is worth a few bucks to rent (honestly, probably not the $6 I paid) for a family night in. But I don't think you'll be going out of your way to revisit it again this time next year. Check it out!